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I just started reading the Lord of the Rings to my son. That book does a lot of things well, but what it is first & foremost is the most beautiful friendship story I've ever read. If you've never read it - it's a 10/10, even for someone like me who isn't wildly into fantasy (or even fiction, for that matter). Samwise Gamgee is my go-to role model for loyalty and love in a fictional character. I exclaim out loud anytime I am watching scenes with him and Frodo (especially near the end), “He is the best! This is the best!” to which, of course, my kids shush me and roll their eyes…Anyway, a few nights ago while reading to my son I stumbled upon this section (Galdalf is at Bilbo's house before he sets off on his adventure, and trying to ensure Bilbo wins the internal battle to leave the ring behind for Frodo)…

Do you not EASILY SEE an eerie connection between the ring of power and the role of cell phones in our daily lives? It has many implications that could be explored, but today I want to pay attention to how little focus we have left in our lives, on account of these little, powerful devices. I know I am not the only one who finds it increasingly hard to stay on track, find time for focused work and get to the end of the day with a feeling of satisfaction with how my time was spent (Can I get an amen?).


In the last few years, I have felt my personal autonomy around device usage and focus be slowly chipped away at, through every fault of my own. I feel the duplicitous nature of the draw towards the ring (ahem, phone) and the desire to be rid of it. I am guilty of mindless scrolling, chasing down rabbit trails and coming out of the device-coma to find an hour of my time has been wasted. I was recently listening to an episode of Hidden Brain, with guest Gloria Mark (who is quoted at the top) and she gives some wonderful insights into how to effectively protect our minds from these modern distractions. You can find the whole episode here.


I made this iphone home page download as a friendly reminder. Do you want to spend your life staring at your phone? Yeah, me neither…


Here are SEVEN small, specific changes you could make to find greater focus (& increase satisfaction) in your day. (Pro tip: Start with one, once you've made it stick add another…)

  1. Make your phone grayscale. There is significant research to back up the benefits of making our phones less appealing with this small move. I made this change, and a welcome and unexpected benefit is my phone is less interesting to my kids as well. They pick it up far less than they did before asking, “can I just check amazon real quick for some halo guys” 🙈

  2. Create a no-phone part of your day and then put your phone far away from you. Locked in the safe is fine. Powered off is great. Start with 30 minutes and try and work up to something longer.

  3. Create some sort of alternative that is enticing enough to let it go. I have found that I have been reading a lot less. Like A LOT less. Sure I listen to a million podcast, but sitting with a book in my hands and getting lost, has greatly diminished. I've set an intention to read 5 specific books in the next 6 months. I have a checklist taped to my mirror (where I also track exercise, PT, Bible reading, and no-alcohol days). There is something about keeping track of these things in a public place that makes it easier to follow through (message me to get my book list, or send me yours!).

  4. Use a pomodoro video on youtube (this is for someone who needs a timer, scheduled breaks and little lo-fi background music)

  5. Accountability partner - People go to the gym with a friend, why not use the same idea around device use and have goals and check in about time spent in meaningful work and satisfying activities at the end of each day or week.

  6. Move away from your phone as your music listening device. We use the mighty for music (on a walk or in the garden) without the distraction of the internet. Also, a great option for kids who want music, but you don't want to give a device to…

  7. Schedule the things that make your day good. Is it being outside, knocking things off your to-do list, cooking, connecting with people IRL? Whatever it is, set the intention and then PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR.


Lastly, related to #3 & #7 spend some time in reflection on these questions:

1. What's makes my day satisfying?

2. What truly brings me joy?

3. What do I wish I had more of in my life?

When I did this, what came up is the joy & satisfaction I feel when I am reading a good book to my kids (hence the intentional time reading LOTR to my son). The days of 5 board books at night are long gone, and I do sometime miss their captive attention - but if the book is good, my son is happy to sit still and listen. There is something very satisfying for me in replacing a time of night that would otherwise be dedicated to mindless scrolling, Netflix, or pantry rummaging, for time of connection and imagination with my kid. Once you've identified what your satisfaction markers are, plan your time accordingly (see #7).


Just for you...

Why not buy this lovely set and read it again, or for the first time.



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